There are some movies that scratch an itch that you didn't know you had. They aren't entertainments as much as they are harmonics that create a chord in your psyche. They are there for you, and they are there again and again because they say something that you need to hear.
Some are childhood favorites (that sometimes are not favorites as you age) and some are the building blocks that your own world view is based upon. Others give you a specific 'fix' that satisfies a specific itch and leaves you sated.
It is humorous to me how many of my ultimate favorites are movies I never saw in their original theatrical run. Sometimes it is a matter of physics - I didn't exist as a corporeal being when it premiered in 1939 - sometimes it is a matter of poor advertizing and sometimes it is a matter of economics.
But if I am in a theatre and the moment the credits begin to roll I find myself wanting to stay and watch the film again - right then - then I know I've found something that feeds me.
I can't even tell you in some cases why some films hit me and others do not. I give myself excuses or try to analyse my response - sometimes it is nothing more than a deep desire to exercise a part of myself I cannot easily exorcise in public with other folks watching.
'The Crow' (which I saw opening weekend) was one of those films. I saw the darkness, the violence, the lack of depth to the antagonists (oh, look he wants to have sex with his sister, he must be the big bad) and even the relatively sketchy development of the protagonist (in the movie) as strange sort of plusses.
I didn't want a movie that asked too much of me. I didn't want complicated layering of the various folks - they could have just as well of been masked players in a Greek Comedy - for all the depth displayed. But if I wanted to watch someone kick a 'bad' guy's ass and then (SPOILERS) finally make his way back to his love then this was the film.
I can recall my triumphant scream each and every time one of the baddies bit the dust. I can also (without bothering to watch the rest of the movie) watch the last 5 minutes of this movie and cry like a little baby.
Even my reasons for crying at the ending have changed over the years. Back in the day I cried because I couldn't see how I would ever find anyone who would be my B'schert - my soulmate. I saw their love and the triumph of their love over violence and death as an unattainable goal.
Now, with my wedding approaching to a man I am so happy to spend even really bad days with, I sob because I know I have found that love, and that love is enough to make the worst that life has to offer bearable and the best an exquisite experience.
At the risk of being branded a Friend of Dorothy I find The Wizard of Oz to be one of those movies that resonates with me. I don't see our friends (Scarecrow, Lion, Woodsman) as separate personas - which I would have done as a child watching it on TV - but as parts of a whole human being.
Wisdom isn't the same thing as knowing everything. Bravery isn't about being a bully, it is about knowing what is terrifying and facing or running from that situation, depending on what is appropriate. Feelings cannot be walled off in a metal box, nor can they be frozen or held at bay with an axe.
And Dorothy's journey is about finding her happiness inside herself - not in others, not even in family or Family. Pretty heady stuff for a musical with trees throwing their children at the protagonist.
The Princes Bride - the book as well as the excellent movie - have provided me with countless hours of extreme emotion.
The layers are myriad.
I always wanted to be Westley, I wanted someone to love me who never gave up on me, I wanted to be brave, and able to beat the odds to find love. I wanted to overcome my physical peculiarities to be viewed as a whole human being. And I wanted to be able to stand on my own two feet when I didn't know if I had the strength to stand.
Added to this (incomplete) list is Interstellar.
Is it perfect? I don't think so.
Does it suffer with some its director's issues? Absolutely.
Does it speak to me about loss and the pain of being unable to affect the world we live in, in a meaningful way? In nearly every way.
But moreover, is it about fathers and daughters, and fathers and sons, and the desire we all have to connect with that person, even when they're torn from us and we can seemingly never get them back.
At the end I cried because my mother is gone. That is my grief to bare. That is why it will live with me forever.
Please, use the comments to tell me about the movies that sing to you.